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BBB Tips on Spring Home Remodeling Scams

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Better Business Bureau

  Spring has sprung! BBB is warning homeowners to be on the lookout for home improvement scams.

This is the time of year when less-than-reputable or unqualified contractors come into town promising a variety of services at cut-rate prices. They may show up at your door, advertise in local papers, or deliver fliers to your home.

There are thousands of reputable contractors who will deliver quality work, on time and within budget. Here are some tips from the BBB on how consumers can avoid costly mistakes and scams:

- Compare costs before making a financial commitment toward any home improvement project. In doing so, you should solicit at least two or three bids from prospective contractors based on the same building specifications, materials, labor, and time needed to complete the project.

- BBB advises homeowners to never let a contractor pressure them into making a snap decision. A reputable professional will recognize that you need time to consider many factors when deciding which contractor to hire.

- When looking for a reliable contractor, consumers should employ a contractor with an established business in their area. Ask for references and check them out. Look into the contractor’s standard of work and his professional affiliations; verify his insurance; and check to see if he needs to be licensed.

- Do not permit work to start without a signed, written contract that includes all verbal promises that were made by the contractor. Be sure that the written contract includes a start and completion date, a breakdown of the cost, and information about the contractor, including license number, street address and phone number.

- If you need financing for your project, it may not be wise to agree to financing through your contractor or someone he suggests. Consumers complain that they were pressured to sign a lot of papers and only later found out they had agreed to a home equity loan with a very high rate, points, and fees. Carefully read every document before you give your consent. You can usually get a better deal on financing by shopping around on your own and comparing loan terms from several lenders.

- Always check the company’s BBB Business Review out first. Go to www.bbb.org or call 1-800-388-2222.

If you are asked to pay for the entire job up-front, this should raise a red flag. Arrange for payments to be made as parts of the job are completed. Final payment should not be due until the job is done. And, homeowners should pay by check or credit card, never cash.